Stress is often caused by the clash between our expectations and our reality. This is especially true at this time of the year. Sometime around Thanksgiving, I start to imagine all the Christmas magic I’m going to have with the kids. I’m going to read one of our Christmas books every night. We are going to listen to Christmas music, decorate, bake cookies, and do all that stuff that you see in Christmas montages on those Hallmark movies.
But bedtime is still kind of crazy, and the older one would rather read Star Wars while the younger one would rather just eat the Christmas book. The tree did get up and decorated, but I can’t really remember doing that, so it must not have been very picturesque. There has been no baking. And I’m stressed! I’m trying to cram the Christmas magic into an already full schedule, and those attempts are falling short of giving my kids the perfect Christmas. What’s going to happen when Mommy ruins Christmas!?!?!
Am I going to ruin Christmas, or am I just not getting my way? I’m afraid it is the latter. The reality is that my kids are happy. My oldest is totally excited about Christmas, and my youngest is enjoying eating her Christmas books. Everyone is happy. When I just stop and realize that and let go of those crazy expectations, I let go of that stress, too. For me, the key to this comes down to living in the moment.
Tips for living in the moment
- Take a social media fast. Logout of all your social media networks for a few days or at least step away for a while. Social media tends to fuel our feeling of failure. We see our friends’ posts of perfect homemade Christmas magic, and we just see our own failings.
- Do less. You heard me! In this crazy hustle and bustle season, I’m telling you to do less. If you can’t get everything done on your to-do list, then it’s too long. Cut it down to the essentials and make peace with the things that fall off the list. The earth will not be thrown into chaos if the beds aren’t all made, those Christmas cards don’t go out, or those cookies never get baked.
- Evaluate your expectations. This isn’t the first Christmas that I’ve had visions of a perfect Christmas season, and it’s certainly not the first time I’ve been sadly off. Examining why we tend to follow the same cycle over and over again only to be disappointed gives us the power to stop the cycle. Are these really things I want or is it what I think I want?
- Be present for that magic that does happens. I really do believe in Christmas magic, even if it’s just that the whole city has gotten together to string up lights and step outside the everyday world to celebrate for a few weeks. Things — good things — and opportunities do happen when we aren’t trying to make them. Be relaxed and present enough to enjoy these times.
As always, I hope these ideas inspire you to take control of your stress so that you can enjoy your life and take care of your body.
For more post in this series check out Stress Part 1: Stop letting stress steal your joy and Stress Part 2:What if it is your circus and those are your monkeys. Stress Part 4: Don’t feed the stress.